Triple-A Finals: Game One Rewind
Game one in both the IL and PCL Finals are in the books with the Pawtucket Red Sox beating the Durham Bulls in Pawtucket by a score of 3-2 and the Omaha Storm Chasers coming out on top in their matchup against the Reno Aces in Reno by a score of 6-2 on Tuesday. If Omaha and Durham were to win and move on to the National Championship Game on September 16 at BB&T Ballpark, it would be a rematch of last year’s game from Allentown, PA. Omaha came away with the win.
Let’s take a look back at each game one from Tuesday and a look at some of the players that stood out in each series.
Durham Bulls at Pawtucket Red Sox – PawSox win 3-2
The PawSox were led in game one by starter Edwin Escobar — who was sharp on the mound over seven innings of work. Escobar gave up two runs on six hits over seven innings en route to the win in the 3-2 victory over Durham. Escobar threw 101 pitches, striking out five batters and walking none. The Pawtucket bullpen followed up Escobar’s solid start with two shutout innings out of the bullpen. College of Charleston product Heath Hembree earned the save after recording the final four outs in the game. Hembree, a native of Spartanburg, SC, has not allowed a run in three playoff games this season. He’s 2-for-2 in save opportunities as well.
Durham starter Enny Romero lasted just three innings — allowing three runs on six hits and was saddled with the loss. The Durham bullpen combined to throw five scoreless innings. Doug Mathis pitched three scoreless, while Cory Burns did not allow a run over the final two.
The PawSox as a team are leading the IL playoffs with a .288 batting average and are tied with Durham for most hits with 40. On Tuesday, it was Durham with eight hits leading the way, as Pawtucket managed just seven. Still, Pawtucket got what they needed as they scored a run in each of the first three innings. Garin Cecchini‘s sacrifice fly RBI in the bottom of the third inning proved to be the game-winner.
Rusney Castillo took a step closer to the majors on Tuesday — playing for the Pawtucket Red Sox and making his Triple-A debut in game one. Castillo, who was recently signed by Boston out of Cuba, appeared in six professional games before Tuesday — making his way through the system. He went 6-for-19 in six games –finishing up with Double-A Portland in their playoff series against the Binghamton Mets. In four games, Castillo hit .357 (5-for-14) with four runs scored, two doubles, and two RBIs.
In game two on Wednesday, RHP Jesus Colome gets the start for the Durham Bulls against LHP Brian Johnson for the PawSox. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m.
Omaha Storm Chasers at Reno Aces – Storm Chasers win 6-2
The Storm Chasers got off to a solid start in game one on Tuesday — scoring three runs in the first inning and three runs in the second inning en route to victory. Five Omaha sluggers had at least two hits each and the team combined to rope 11 hits in game one. University of South Carolina product Whit Merrifield had another solid game. The Advance, NC native went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and a walk. Merrifield is hitting .381 (8-for-21) in five playoff games this year. Currently, he’s third in batting average, first in home runs (3), and tied for second in RBIs (4). Brett Hayes chipped in with two hits and two RBIs, while Cheslor Cuthbert also had two hits and two RBIs.
Omaha starter Aaron Brooks allowed two runs on four hits over seven innings en route to the win. Brooks, who I wrote about as a player to keep an eye on here, allowed two runs on four hits over seven innings en route to his second win of the 2014 playoffs. He walked one, struck-out five, and needed tossed 100 pitches. In game one of the PCL playoffs, Brooks matched a career-high with 10 strikeouts over eight innings. He allowed just five hits in the 7-0 win over Memphis.
Others notes on Tuesday from game one: Royals number one prospect Kyle Zimmer threw a scorless inning out of the bullpen on Tuesday as he continues to work his way back from an injury… Reno catcher Blake Lalli — a product of Gardner-Webb University, went 1-for 3 in the loss… Veteran slugger Mike Jacobs was 1-for-4 for Reno… Omaha is hitting .280 as a team to lead the PCL in the playoffs… Reno is hitting .265 with a team-high seven home runs… Former Knights hurler Clayton Richard started for Reno and allowed three runs on four hits in just 0.2 IP and was dealt the loss… He threw 29 pitches in the first inning before being removed.
LHP John Lamb gets the ball for Omaha in game two against Reno RHP Bradin Hagens. First pitch is set for 10:05 PM ET on Wednesday.